John Bunyan’s “Holy War” – Family Evening Reading

13 Oct

This evening before the kids went to bed, we did what we do most nights: read a portion of a book together, read a portion of Scripture, & prayed.

Over the years we have read a number of great books together in this setting. Tonight we finished a marvellous read.

I’m not exactly sure when we started it, but for the past several months we have been working our way through John Bunyan’s Holy War – the unabridged, original version.

While John Bunyan is most famously known for writing Pilgrim’s Progress, his works of Christian literature extend well beyond just one novel. Indeed, Bunyan was a prolific writer and preacher, authoring over fifty books and tracts during his lifetime. Like Pilgrim’s ProgressThe Holy War is an allegorical novel which depicts fictional people and events to illustrate the Christian’s spiritual journey.The Holy War is the story of “Mansoul” a perfect town built for the glory of its benevolent creator and leader, King Shaddai. After being deceived by the wicked ruler Diabolus, the town rejects the rule of King Shaddai and falls deep into the mires of sin and despair. As battles rage against good and evil, the redemption of Mansoul is only possible through the victory of Shaddai’s son, Prince Emmanuel. Bunyan’s allegory is full of clever characters and captivating drama. This important Christian classic is both educational and entertaining, so it is a great book for leisure reading or Bible study.

Our children are ages 10, 8, & 6. They have loved reading this masterpiece of English literature and rich theological depth.

Here is the conclusion, these few pages are rich with theological truth, a delight to read, and refreshing to the soul as Bunyan causes us to reflect on he wonders of the Gospel.

the Prince began, and thus proceeded:-

‘You, my Mansoul, and the beloved of mine heart, many and great are the privileges that I have bestowed upon you; I have singled you out from others, and have chosen you to myself, not for your worthiness, but for mine own sake. I have also redeemed you, not only from the dread of my Father’s law, but from the hand of Diabolus. This I have done because I loved you, and because I have set my heart upon you to do you good. I have also, that all things, that might hinder thy way to the pleasures of paradise might be taken out of the way, laid down for thee for thy soul a plenary satisfaction, and have bought thee to myself; a price not
of corruptible things, as of silver and gold, but a price of blood, mine own blood, which I have freely spilled upon the ground to make thee mine. So I have reconciled thee, O my Mansoul, to my Father, and entrusted thee in the mansion houses that are with my Father in the royal city, where things are, O my Mansoul, that eye hath not seen, nor hath entered into the heart of man to conceive.

‘Besides, O my Mansoul, thou seest what I have done, and how I have taken thee out of the hands of thine enemies: unto whom thou hadst deeply revolted from my Father, and by whom thou wast content to be possessed, and also to be destroyed. I came to thee first by my law, then by my gospel, to awaken thee, and show thee my glory. And thou knowest what thou wast, what thou saidst, what thou didst, and how many times thou rebelledst against my Father and me; yet I
left thee not as thou seest this day, but came to thee, have borne thy manners, have waited upon thee, and, after all, accepted of thee, even of my mere grace and favour; and would not suffer thee to be lost, as thou most willingly wouldst have been. I also compassed thee about, and afflicted thee on every side, that I might make thee weary of thy ways, and bring down thy heart with molestation to a willingness to close with thy good and happiness. And when I had gotten a complete conquest over thee, I turned it to
thy advantage.

‘Thou seest, also, what a company of my Father’s host I have lodged within thy borders: captains and rulers, soldiers and men of war, engines and excellent devices to subdue and bring down thy foes; thou knowest my meaning, O Mansoul. And they are my servants, and thine, too, Mansoul. Yea, my design of possessing of thee with them, and the natural tendency of each of them is to defend, purge, strengthen, and sweeten thee for myself, O Mansoul, and to make thee meet for my Father’s presence, blessing, and glory; for thou, my Mansoul, art created to be prepared unto these.

‘Thou seest, moreover, my Mansoul, how I have passed by thy backslidings, and have healed thee. Indeed I was angry with thee, but I have turned mine anger away from thee, because I loved thee still, and mine anger and mine indignation is ceased in the destruction of thine enemies, O Mansoul. Nor did thy goodness fetch me again unto thee, after that I for thy transgressions have hid my face, and withdrawn my presence from thee. The way of backsliding was thine, but the way and means of thy recovery was
mine. I invented the means of thy return; it was I that made an hedge and a wall, when thou wast beginning to turn to things in which I delighted not. It was I that made thy sweet bitter, thy day night, thy smooth way thorny, and that also confounded all that sought thy destruction. It was I that set Mr. Godly-Fear to work in Mansoul. It was I that stirred up thy conscience and understanding, thy will and thy affections, after thy great and woful decay. It was I that put life into thee, O Mansoul, to seek me, that thou mightest find me, and in thy finding find thine own health, happiness, and salvation. It was I that fetched the second time the Diabolonians out of Mansoul; and it was I that overcame
them, and that destroyed them before thy face.

‘And now, my Mansoul, I am returned to thee in peace, and thy transgressions against me are as if they had not been. Nor shall it be with thee as in former days, but I will do better for thee than at thy beginning.

For yet a little while, O my Mansoul, even after a few more times are gone over thy head, I will (but be not thou troubled at what I say) take down this famous town of Mansoul, stick and stone, to the ground. And I will carry the stones thereof, and the timber thereof, and the walls thereof, and the dust thereof, and the inhabitants thereof, into mine own country, even into a kingdom of my Father; and will there set it up in such strength and glory, as it never did see in the kingdom where now it is placed. I will even there set it up for my Father’s habitation; for for that purpose it was at first erected in the kingdom of Universe; and there will I make it a spectacle of wonder, a monument of mercy, and the admirer of its own mercy. There shall the natives of Mansoul see all that, of which they have seen nothing here: there shall they be equal to those unto whom they have been inferior
here. And there shalt thou, O my Mansoul, have such communion with me, with my Father, and with your Lord Secretary, as it is not possible here to be enjoyed, nor ever could be, shouldest thou live in Universe the space of a thousand years.

‘And there, O my Mansoul, thou shalt be afraid of murderers no more; of Diabolonians, and their threats, no more. There, there shall be no more plots, nor contrivances, nor designs against thee, O my Mansoul. There thou shalt no more hear the evil-tidings, or the noise of the Diabolonian drum. There thou shalt not see the Diabolonian standard-bearers, nor yet behold Diabolus’s standard. No Diabolonian mount shall be cast up against thee there; nor shall there the Diabolonian standard be set up to make thee afraid. There thou shalt not need captains, engines, soldiers, and men of war. There thou shalt meet with no sorrow, nor grief, nor shall it be possible that any Diabolonian should again, for ever, be able to
creep into thy skirts, burrow in thy walls, or be seen again within thy borders all the days of eternity. Life shall there last longer than here you are able to desire it should; and yet it shall always be sweet and new, nor shall any impediment attend it for ever.

‘There, O Mansoul, thou shalt meet with many of those that have been like thee, and that have been partakers of thy sorrows; even such as I have chosen, and redeemed, and set apart, as thou, for my Father’s court and city-royal. All they will be glad in thee, and thou, when thou seest them, shalt be glad in thine heart.

‘There are things, O Mansoul, even things of my Father’s providing, and mine, that never were seen since the beginning of the world; and they are laid up with my Father, and sealed up among his treasures for thee, till thou shalt come thither to enjoy them. I told you before, that I would remove my Mansoul, and set it up elsewhere; and where I will set it, there are those that love thee, and those that rejoice in thee now; but how much more, when they
shall see thee exalted to honour! My Father will then send them for you to fetch you; and their bosoms are chariots to put you in. And you, O my Mansoul, shall ride upon the wings of the wind. They will come to convey, conduct, and bring you to that, when your eyes see more, that will be your desired haven.

‘And thus, O my Mansoul, I have showed unto thee what shall be done to thee hereafter, if thou canst hear, if thou canst understand; and now I will tell thee what at present must be thy duty and practice, until I come and fetch thee to myself, according as is related in the Scriptures of truth.

‘First, I charge thee that thou dost hereafter keep more white and clean the liveries which I gave thee before my last withdrawing from thee. Do it, I say, for this will be thy wisdom. They are in themselves fine linen, but thou must keep them white and clean. This will be your wisdom, your honour, and will be greatly for my glory. When your garments are white, the world will count you
mine. Also, when your garments are white, then I am delighted in your ways; for then your goings to and fro will be like a flash of lightning, that those that are present must take notice of; also their eyes will be made to dazzle thereat. Deck thyself, therefore, according to my bidding, and make thyself by my law straight steps for thy feet; so shall thy King greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.

‘Now, that thou mayest keep them as I bid thee, I have, as I before did tell thee, provided for thee an open fountain to wash thy garments in. Look, therefore, that thou wash often in my fountain, and go not in defiled garments; for as it is to my dishonour and my disgrace, so it will be to thy discomfort, when you shall walk in filthy garments. Let not, therefore, my garments, your garments, the garments that I gave thee, be defiled or spotted by the flesh. Keep thy garments always white, and let thy head lack no ointment.

‘My Mansoul, I have ofttimes delivered thee from the designs,
plots, attempts, and conspiracies of Diabolus; and for all this I
ask thee nothing, but that thou render not to me evil for my good; but that thou bear in mind my love, and the continuation of my kindness to my beloved Mansoul, so as to provoke thee to walk in thy measure according to the benefit bestowed on thee. Of old, the sacrifices were bound with coords to the horns of the altar. Consider what is said to thee, O my blessed Mansoul.

‘O my Mansoul, I have lived, I have died, I live, and will die no more for thee. I live, that thou mayest not die. Because I live, thou shalt live also. I reconciled thee to my Father by the blood of my cross; and being reconciled, thou shalt live through me. I will pray for thee; I will fight for thee; I will yet do thee good.

‘Nothing can hurt thee but sin; nothing can grieve me but sin;
nothing can make thee base before thy foes but sin: take heed of sin, my Mansoul.

‘And dost thou know why I at first, and do still, suffer Diabolonians to dwell in thy walls, O Mansoul? It is to keep thee wakening, to try thy love, to make thee watchful, and to cause thee yet to prize my noble captains, their soldiers, and my mercy.

‘It is also, that yet thou mayest be made to remember what a
deplorable condition thou once wast in. I mean when, not some, but all did dwell, not in thy walls, but in thy castle, and in thy stronghold, O Mansoul.

‘O my Mansoul, should I slay all them within, many there be
without, that would bring thee into bondage; for were all these within cut off, those without would find thee sleeping; and then, as in a moment, they would swallow up my Mansoul. I therefore left them in thee, not to do thee hurt (the which they yet will, if thou hearken to them, and serve them,) but to do thee good, the which they must, if thou watch and fight against them. Know, therefore, that whatever they shall tempt thee to, my design is, that they should drive thee, not further off, but nearer to my father, to learn thee war, to make petitioning desirable to thee, and to make thee little in thine own eyes. Hearken diligently to this, my Mansoul.

‘Show me, then, thy love, my Mansoul, and let not those that are within thy walls, take thy affections off from him that hath redeemed thy soul. Yea, let the sight of a Diabolonian heighten thy love to me. I came once, and twice, and thrice, to save thee from the poison of those arrows that would have wrought thy death: stand for me, thy Friend, my Mansoul, against the Diabolonians, and I will stand for thee before my Father, and all his court. Love me against temptation, and I will love thee notwithstanding thine infirmities.

‘O my Mansoul, remember what my captains, my soldiers, and mine engines have done for thee. They have fought for thee, they have suffered by thee, they have borne much at thy hands to do thee good, O Mansoul. Hadst thou not had them to help thee, Diabolus had certainly made a hand of thee. Nourish them, therefore, my Mansoul. When thou dost well, they will be well; when thou dost ill, they will be ill, and sick, and weak. Make not my captains sick, O Mansoul; for if they be sick, thou canst not be well; if they be weak, thou canst not be strong; if they be faint, thou canst not be stout and valiant for thy King, O Mansoul. Nor must thou think always to live by sense: thou must live upon my word. Thou must believe, O my Mansoul, when I am from thee, that yet I love thee, and bear thee upon mine heart for ever.

‘Remember, therefore, O my Mansoul, that thou art beloved of me: as I have, therefore, taught thee to watch, to fight, to pray, and to make war against my foes; so now I command thee to believe that my love is constant to thee. O my Mansoul, how have I set my heart, my love upon thee! Watch. Behold, I lay none other burden upon thee, than what thou hast already. Hold fast, till I come.’

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Posted by on 13/10/2011 in Church History, Family, Gospel, Parenting


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